Editor’s Note: Andrey Osadchenko is back with another interview with a Leafs prospect. This time he speaks to the player that finished 8th on PPP’s Top 25 Under 25.
It’s really surprising to learn that despite having never played in the CHL, the Leafs drafted you 99th overall in the 4th round, which is huge. Were you surprised you got picked so high?
Yeah, I was playing juniors in Alberta. I kind of had a feeling I was going to get drafted but I didn’t know with who. I talked to Toronto and I talked to a bunch of teams… I had a pretty good year that year. It was definitely as high as I thought I was going to go.
How did that happen that you never played in the CHL in the first place?
I went to college. I couldn’t play in the CHL because otherwise I couldn’t go to the college. So I went to college. I went to North Dakota for 4 years. For it was either college or CHL. I chose college.
Was it you who decided to go to college or was it your parents who sort of forced you to take care about your education first of all?
Actually, most of my friends were in the CHL. I was more of a late guy. The teams wanted me for about 2,5 years. But I went to college, met some people there and it turned out good.
What was your major?
Editor’s Note: His NCAA career involved some highs (the lawnmower incident) some lows (getting dismissed from the team) and was topped off by his redemption through some amazing self-discipline and reflection.
How different is AHL hockey from NCAA hockey?
I kind of feel it’s pretty much the same. It’s a fast-paced hard-hitting game. I think the biggest jump is from the AHL to the NHL. That’s really the biggest difference. It’s just the structure of the game and how smart the players are. The NHL is a lot more systematized than college. Besides they play 3-4 games a week instead of just 2.
How does it feel to play in NHL after all those years in the NCAA and AJHL?
It was definitely fun for the first half that I was up there. They I got sent down here just to develop a little bit and play up to my potential. I play every game as hard as I can so I can get back up there.
It’s your first season as a pro. Now that you’ve played so many games in the AHL and NHL how well would you say the season is going for you?
I don’t take it as a given. I just have got to keep doing what I’ve been doing the last couple of years that got me here. I should keep doing that and hope that it’s going to work out.
It must have been big to score your first NHL goal not only against the Washington Capitals – a team many have been calling the best team in hockey for so long – but in that terrific blowout win for the Leafs?
Any first goal regardless of what team you are with is definitely something you’re going to remember. Joe Colborne just found me in the slot there. It was a great pass by him and I got it pass the goalie… Yeah, everybody’s going to remember their first goal.
Alex Ovechkin was left off the score-sheet that night. Did you have a sort of I-am-better-than-Ovie feeling?
(laughs) Never think that, never think that, no.
You recently played an outdoor game with the Marlies against the Bulldogs. What was that like?
It was fun. It was my first outdoors game. We’ve growing up on ice. There’s so many outdoor games every year now… It’s definitely fun to play and to win. It’s definitely going to be a lot of fun next year in Michigan.
They talk so much about the rivalry between the Leafs and Canadiens. How big is the rivalry between the Marlies and Bulldogs in the AHL?
Did you see the game out there today? (laughs) I’m pretty sure there’s a rivalry, yeah. It’s definitely something that has been around for quite some time. Obviously, not too many people know about it comparing to the big scale of the Leafs and Montreal Canadiens, but there’s definitely something there.